WE totally concur with the earnest appeal by the National Action for Quality Education in Zambia (NAQEZ) that unless Government takes special measures to eradicate the scourge of examination leakages the entire Zambian educational system would soon be turned into a gigantic sham.
The revelation by the non-governmental organization that Zambia tops the list of exam fraudsters in Southern Africa should shake the public and private educationalists to the core because we are deliberately allowing a situation where very soon no country in the world will accept any certificate or qualification issued in Zambia.
It also follows that Zambian graduates, including medical doctors, accountants, engineers and lawyers, would not be allowed to practice outside this country and any authoritative academic or research paper written by any one of them would not be worth the paper it is written on.
Reaching this point would spell dire consequences for the country and the future of our academic and training institutions such as universities, colleges and hospitals. It means no-one, including Zambians, would trust anyone claiming to be a qualified professional because they would all be regarded as quacks.
And the problem starts from primary and secondary schools where teachers have conspired to help pupils cheat the system by either writing the examinations for them or leaking exam papers to candidates, some of whom invent all sorts of schemes to carry exam answers into the examination room.
Several headmasters and teachers have been prosecuted over the past few years for accepting bribes to help candidates pass exams fraudulently. Some have been arrested breaking into school strong rooms to steal examination papers to sell to candidates and their sponsors.
The saddest part is that while commendable efforts have been made by various stakeholders to educate and sensitize the public, especially learners, on the grave consequences of this practice, examination leakage cases are mounting each year.
Now we hear even college lecturers and university professors award fake certificates, diplomas and degrees to undeserving candidates at a fee or to repay a sexual favour.
What is the national risk of such an individual holding a qualification he or she does not deserve? What if he or she is a doctor, nurse or electrician? The consequences would be too ghastly to contemplate.
No doubt it has now become imperative that Zambians must unite as a country to fight this scourge which is slowly rendering our educational system valueless. Exam cheating is corruption of the worst kind; a major white-collar crime. It robs the nation of its future anchored on education as the catalyst for development in all spheres of human endeavor.
Education is the equalizer and basis for all human advancement. Anyone who tampers with the country’s quality of education is a killer and traitor.
We encore the warning by NAQEZ to the people of Zambia that examinations are just not annual events but they are important landmarks in the lives of learners, parents and society as a whole. They are critical assessment tools that gauge the knowledge, skill and ability of an individual to be regarded locally and internationally as qualified.
Without this barrier which separates the refined human product from the chaff, Zambia’s entire educational system would lose credibility in the eyes of the world. This would not only make the country a laughing stock but render its citizens academically inferior and unreliable.
The Government, through the Ministry of Education and Examinations Council of Zambia, must put in place stringent measures to protect exam papers and safeguard the interests of the genuine learner who passes by their own effort.
Otherwise, the billions of Kwacha we budget for our education each year would be a waste.